Three-Day Five-Fifty Forum Concludes with Pledges to Revitalise the Tibetan Movement

CTA president delivering the concluding remarks of the five-fifty forum on 8 October 2017. Photo/ Tenzin Phende/DIIR

DHARAMSHALA: The Five-Fifty Forum organised by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) came to a close today after three days of intensive discussions on the future course of the Tibetan movement.

Participants of the forum deliberated on four main agendas namely, seeking constructive dialogue and negotiations with PRC; Tibet’s core relationship with a rising India and Asia; CTA’s International relations and advocacy; and CTA’s leadership.

In his concluding remarks, President Dr Lobsang Sangay thanked the participants for their wholehearted participation and candid suggestions on strengthening and revitalising the Tibetan movement.

He said the Tibetan administration would look into all the recommendations, and try to formulate policies based on the recommendations.

Dr Sangay also spoke about CTA’s position on the Rangzen vs Umaylam discourse and clarified that the Tibetan administration is not against Rangzen advocates per se.

“Rangzen is a historical fact of Tibet. However, some fringe elements criticising His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the pretext of advocating Rangzen is unacceptable. We respect rangzen groups for their passion and dedication to the Tibet cause but they should make the distinction between these two things. We should keep in mind that there is no one who has done more for the Tibetan people and Tibet cause than His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.

President Dr Sangay also spoke about the Middle Way Approach as more realistic and practical than complete independence, which is more confrontational. “Not only is the Middle Way more moderate and relevant, it also helps create spaces for engagement with governments and international bodies. An ideology based on confrontation will have few backers,” he said.

He also attributed the goodwill of the Tibetan movement to the ethos of non-violence that Tibet represents. “As one participant rightly said in the forum, there is no negative connotation associated with the Tibet movement. Most other international movements, irrespective of their causes, tend to have some negative connotations. However, if you support the Tibet movement, there is no reason to be guilty as it is purely unblemished,” he explained.

President Dr Sangay further thanked the international community for their continued support on the Tibet issue. He said the Tibetan administration is organising a year of gratitude next year in 2018 to express its sincere appreciation for supporting Tibet.

“Next year it will be exactly 60 years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Tibet for exile in India. Therefore, we are going to mark the year as ‘thank you year’ to all our friends and supporters especially India. India is our greatest and most loyal supporter and we are deeply grateful to this great nation,” he said.

The concluding session was moderated by DIIR Secretary Tenzin Dhardon Sharling and the vote of thanks was delivered by Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo.

The participants also expressed appreciation at the smooth and efficient management of the discussions, and careful selection of the speakers, moderators and the facilitators of the forum. They called for more such forums to be organised to exchange ideas, and revitalise the Tibetan movement over time.